This paper discusses how techniques for representing knowledge, such as concept maps could be effectively used in a technical writing classroom for the conceptual understanding of a problem and as a visualization strategy for complex technical documents. The motivation behind using the knowledge models (concept maps) for an engineering/computer science oriented technical writing class is based on the importance of understanding different knowledge representations in an engineering / Computer Science document and the fact that the ease of solving such a problem is almost completely determined by ways in which problem is conceptualized and represented. In this project, we argue for the importance of using specific kinds of concept maps, such as ladders, in a technical writing class offered for computer science majors.
A survey-based study with 25 students from a technical thesis writing class, reported in this article suggested that advanced students in an EFL technical thesis writing course have enough expertise to understand the use and application of specialized concept maps for technical document production activities. Results indicate that students, on most part, understand specific inference-based applications of concept maps in documents, tasks and especially specific sentences in the domain of computer science. Self-reports also indicated that students are reasonably confident about their ability to apply different types of concept maps in logical ways.
Teaching evidence suggested that use of concept maps should be effectively integrated both during planning stages and as part of traditional document production techniques. Assignments and activities in a technical writing classroom (e.g., software manual design, quick guides, FAQ, brochures, lab reports etc) should address the use of concept maps for conceptualizing, schematizing and presenting procedural information logically and structurally. Using concept maps efficiently can lead to structural and functional conceptualization, visualization, representation and retention of complex information. The entire English curriculum in this institute designed as “English for computer science” involved students using concept maps from freshman to senior years for conceptualizing and articulating computer science concepts.
|Keywords:||Concept Maps, Knowledge Models, CMAPTools, Technical Writing, Procedures|
Associate Professor, Center for Language Research, University of Aizu, Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima, Japan
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